Storytelling is hugely popular these days, from the stages of TED to every training course, conference or workshop with a bit of an oomph.
Whichever the presented purpose, and disregarding of any money exchanging hands, we actually tell stories and metaphors to sell. We sell an idea, a viewpoint, a statement we want people to be on board with, etc.
Alas, some stories are universally known and are more or less the same, whoever the person recounting them is. Other stories though can gain a totally different meaning to what we knew before, paint a different picture, shift our perspective, enlarge our view, narrow it down or change our minds altogether.
The magic word is interpretation!
We interpret behaviours, words, events, data, signs… We interpret pretty much anything. We attribute meaning but is the meaning we attribute always there?
I’m not a massive fan of history, and yet I’m about halfway through The Silk Roads, a book presenting events from the last two millennia. While the book is sprinkled with cute nuggets of information (the Italian ‘ciao’ actually means ‘I am your slave’. I might stop using this one so much now…) and all sorts of unexpected stories (the Mongols unintentionally came up with the first biological weapon – by catapulting bodies of plague-infested people over the walls of Genova), the book also forgets to acknowledge or give the deserved credit to other events in history (very little intel about the Renaissance, which we all learned a lot about in school).
“History is written by the victors” – Winston Churchill
In fact, Peter Frankopan shifts the focus from the West towards the East, and while doing so he presents in a more positive light, less violent, the expansion of the Mongols or of the Muslims for instance, than I’ve known from the history textbooks, and in a more negative light the Christians from the West, who’s crusades seem to be much more about wealth than about religion.
Of course, Frankopan interprets history, and so did the authors of the textbooks I’ve learned from during my school years.
You already know what I’m talking about and I don’t even have to go that far as to look at history… We see events presented in the media every day, albeit the narrative differs from one news channel to the other. Scientists’ research reach contradicting conclusions, even when interpreting quantitative data. Yesterday’s lunch time gossip is different when told by one colleague than it was when told by another.
While events are unique and singular, interpretations can be many, consciously or unconsciously biased and sometimes with an agenda.
Dismiss the voice inside your head / What does the above have to do with YOU?
It’s not only other people who tinker with the truth, it’s us as well. We tell white lies to avoid hurting other people, to hide something not worth knowing in the first place, to maintain appearances, etc.
Leaving aside what we tell other people and why, let’s look at what we actually tell ourselves. Because we all have a voice inside our heads, a voice encouraging or discouraging our every thought, idea, action or behaviour. This little voice has a name, and it’s called your Conscious Mind.
So come back next week, to see how your conscious mind affects your decisions and your life in general, and why you should dismiss it more often than listening to it!
And in the meantime, do leave a comment below to tell me what are the things your conscious mind is whispering in your ear every time you think of your biggest dream and how to achieve it?